For many years my interest in gardening had been on a slow burn, but since moving to Barnet two years ago it has turned into a full blown passion. While house hunting, the garden was a deal breaker. Experience had taught me the value of a well stocked, established garden. Above all, such gardens reflect the investment of time, as much as the financial cost and often a lot of trial and error. A minimal paved ‘low maintenance’ garden simply would not do!
We struck lucky here. Our southeast facing garden is well stocked with a range of plants including fruit trees, grape vine, peonies, magnificent magnolia, but the icing on the cake has been the roses. It’s been a surprise discovering just how deeply satisfying roses are. Ours start flowering in June and, if I’m lucky and keep deadheading all through the season, there might still be some blooms on my birthday in November.
So many things make them special. As well as their sheer beauty and elegance, their architectural presence adds structure and definition, although beds need fleshing out with a good mix of plants to avoid that dated hard, skeletal look. The fragrance always stops me in my tracks. It can be classically heady and sweet, sometimes with an exotic myrrh quality or more focused and fruity, however it’s almost always complex and thought provoking. And then there’s the mind boggling number of varieties available, all with such different personalities. If you take a look at the David Austin Roses website you’ll see just how spoiled for choice you can be. This site makes for wonderful browsing and, if the diversity is too much, the Not Sure Which Rose to Choose section is very useful. Alternatively visit the Royal National Rose Society’s Gardens of the Rose in St Albans or for creative inspiration Sissinghurst.
There’s no better way to unwind – just relax and smell the roses (and maybe do a bit of deadheading).